Episode 13 | Twelve Ways to Add Hours to Your Day

Episode 13 | Twelve Ways to Add Hours to Your Day

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Show Notes


[00:00] Mike Taber: This is Startups For the Rest of Us: Episode 13.

[00:03] [music]

[00:12] Mike: Welcome to Startups For the Rest of Us, the podcast that helps developers be awesome at launching software products, whether you have built your first product or are just thinking about it.  I’m Mike.

[00:21] Rob Walling: And I’m Rob.

[00:22] Mike: And we are here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made.  What’s going on this week Rob?

[00:27] Rob: Vacation!

[00:29] Mike: [laughs]

[00:29] Rob: I just got back from being totally disconnected for about five days.  I had no cell service, I had no email.  It was a very interesting experience.  I actually had one day where we drove “into town”, and suddenly my iPhone just started buzzing like crazy and all these instant messages came in and text messages.  I did check email in the middle of that time.  But didn’t really respond to anything.

[00:55] It was fun.  Yeah, there were no fires.  I mean nothing burned to the ground while I was gone.  And it was pretty relaxing.  It allowed me to get a lot of perspective, I feel like.  Because I could kind of get out from day to day tasks, and I just did a lot of brainstorming and thinking and writing, jotting down notes and stuff.  It was fun.

[01:12] Mike: Cool.  I was thinking about that maybe a week or so ago.  I couldn’t get Internet access where I was and I was just going absolutely bonkers.  I’m like, “I need my email!”  [laughs]  I go through a withdrawal.  I really do!

[01:24] Rob: Yeah.  Well, the difference is I was on vacation with a bunch of friends.  You, I think, were sitting in a hotel room all by yourself.  [laughs]  And you were trying to…and you were actively trying to check email and just couldn’t get it.  That’s a totally different scenario.  Cool.  How about you?

[01:39] Mike: Well, just working on a couple different things.  Trying to finish up a product launch.  I talked about it, I don’t know, maybe episode five or six or something like that.  I realistically only had about 20 hours worth or work left on it, and I still probably have maybe eight left on it.  [laughs]  I just have not had the time to dedicate to getting done.

[01:59] But I think this week is the week, and possibly as early as next week I’ll have everything all done and out the door.

[02:05] Rob: Nice and then we’ll analyze it, scrutinize it and the podcast?

[02:09] Mike: Sure, sure we can do that.

[02:10] Rob: Cool.

[02:11] [music]

[02:14] Mike: Anyway, what are we talking about today?

[02:16] Rob: Today we’re talking about “12 Ways to Add Hours to Your Day”.  This is in contrast to last week when we talked about “Six Ways to Increasing Productivity”.  As we talked about in that podcast, that was more about being more productive while you work.  So it was basically getting things done faster and more efficiently.  Whereas this week we’re talking about ways to eliminate waste in other areas of your life and ways to get back time that you might be spending doing things that are not productive and also not fun.

[02:50] In my opinion, I’ve said this before, but in my opinion you should always be productive or you should be having fun reenergizing your batteries, so to speak.  If you’re not doing either of those things then you really need to figure out a way to take control of that time and to reclaim some hours for productivity.

[03:08] Mike: Where does paying bills fall in that? [laughs]

[03:11] Rob: Yeah, it’s an interesting . . .  it’s really not…

[03:13] Mike: Because that’s sure not productive and that’s, sure as heck, not fun.

[03:16] Rob: Well, you know what’s interesting is . . .  I would put that under the definition of productive, because it has to be done.  It’s something that you have to do.  So I think that although it’s not productive in terms of writing code, like in building a product, someone has to get it done.  As we look at, one of the items here is to figure out a way to do that faster; you know, to pay your bills faster.

[03:38] Mike: So cool.  Why don’t we get started on these?  So the first of the 12 ways is to listen to podcasts at double speed.  I know Rob probably does this as well as I do, but anytime I listen to podcasts, I always do it on my iPhone and I’m always listening to them at double speed.  I honestly wish that there was a one and a half speed just so that I could retain it and understand it a little bit better.  But I found that listening to those podcasts at double speed allows me to get through twice as many in the same amount of time, especially if I’m on an airplane or in my car going someplace, like a dentist’s appointment or a doctor appointment. I can always just throw on my iPhone and listen to that podcast.

[04:15] I can get through a half hour podcast in about 15 minutes, and that includes time that I may need to step back a little bit because maybe I need to listen to something again or lost my place between…you know I shut it off when I went into the dentist’s office and come back out.  I might need about 30 seconds or so to figure out, “OK, what was it they were talking about again?”  Then I just hit rewind for that 30 seconds and it goes through it in 15 and I can kind of get back on track.  But it still helps me get through those podcasts much, much quicker, and it just helps me consume a lot more information a lot faster.

[04:46] Rob: I think that ties into tip number two, which is to use a DVR, digital video recorder, to cut an hour long TV show to 40 minutes.  This is one that a lot of my friends use and it really does, it saves you 20 minutes, 15 to 20 minutes for every hour of TV that you watch.  I think it’s a great idea.

[05:05] If you watch five hours of TV a week, it’s like bam, there’s an hour and 15.  Better yet, I’ve taken it to even more extreme.  I’ve completely cancelled cable.  I only watch TV online and I don’t do pirating TV shows or Bit Torrent or anything like that.  I use HULU and I use the networks and watch TV directly there.  They’re very minimal commercial breaks.  There’s probably just a couple of minutes of commercials per 30 minute show.  So it’s not a bad thing.

[05:34] Mike: But they’re the same commercials over and over and over.

[05:38] Rob: Yeah, that’s ridiculous.  They really haven’t got that down yet.  My wife and I were talking about it last week.  The real benefit, the reason we did it originally was to eliminate just clicking the on button and sitting in front of a TV.  We all do that when you just kind of want to rest or just have a few minutes.  I never do that anymore and it really is a big benefit.  And I save that $70 or whatever.  I know some people pay $120 a month for cable.  I use to pay 70 a month and that’s a chunk of change to do something fun with.

[06:09] Mike: I’d mentioned on last week’s podcast, I think, that I won that iPad from Axosoft.


[06:16] Rob: Woohoo!

[06:16] Mike: And this past week I happened to be flying down to Albuquerque, so I spent the weekend in Phoenix with a friend of mine and went and visited the Axosoft offices and got to say hi to the guys over there and thank them, of course, for the iPad.  When I came back,  I checked my DVR and it was 98% full.  [laughs]

[06:33] Rob: Oh no.

[06:34] Mike: So needless to say, I’m slacking in that department.

[06:38] Rob: What were you recording, man?

[06:39] Mike: You know, you get a couple of things in HD and it just burns through space like it’s nothing.

[06:47] The third thing that we came up with is don’t be afraid to stop doing something if you’re not enjoying it.  Whether it’s a book, or a movie, a magazine, or listening to a podcast, if you don’t like what the message is or if you’re just simply not enjoying yourself, stop and use that time for something else.  Whether that’s you go to your DVR and start watching something, if you’re 10 minutes into it then you can just decide, “OK, well I’m going to stop watching this”.  Right there you’ve saved yourself the rest of the 30 minutes of that 40 minute show that had originally been cut down from an hour.

[07:15] Rob: This one seems so inane, but I absolutely use to finish everything that I started.  So I would start a book and I’d get two chapters in and realize, “Boy this really isn’t that helpful, or it’s not well written, or it’s not telling me anything new.” And I would finish the book.  I’d start reading a little faster; maybe skim it some, but what a waste of time.  Now if you don’t captivate me in the first chapter or two, it’s gone, the books done, I’m reselling it on Amazon, getting rid of  it, recycling it, whatever.  I truly believe that becoming pretty ferocious with your time and guarding your free time and your productive time and only doing stuff that actually provides value for you is a big deal.

[07:54]  I think now is probably a good time to probably say that Mike and I don’t believe that you should always work.  We don’t believe you should always be productive.  There really has to be this recharging time.  It’s not always about getting things done, getting things done.  But, whether you’re reading something to actually educate yourself on a topic that you’re going to use, and so you’re being productive, or you really are just charging your battery, man, if it’s not working, then stop doing it.

[08:21] Mike: Yeah, you definitely need to strike a balance of some sort.  Maybe your balance is 90% work, 10% play, or maybe it’s more 60% work and 40% play.  You have to find something that works for you.  As long as it works for you that’s great.  It just doesn’t matter what that ratio is because it’s not necessarily going to match up to what everybody else is doing or anybody else is doing.

[08:43] Rob: Tip number four is to listen to books or podcasts while you drive, while you clean the house, exercise or cook dinner.  It’s crazy what audio learning can do for you.  It has totally changed my attitude towards doing things like housework or taking a drive up to the grocery store.  I’m excited now and I have enough podcasts in the queue that whenever I hop in the car or go out to do some work around the yard that I really do have enough interesting material to keep me captivated.  I’m actually amazed.

[09:14] I got into a conversation with a friend last week.  We were talking about listening to podcasts.  He was like, “Yeah, I really don’t have time.”  But I said, “You drive all the time”.  He said, “Yeah, I just like to have the radio off.”  And I said, “Wow, it’s just silent?”  And he said, “Yeah,” while he drives.  I said, “Do you think about anything or are you brainstorming or making notes?”  He said, “Eh, sometimes.  But a lot of times I’m just sitting there driving, looking at the scenery.”

[09:36] That’s crazy to me.  We didn’t get into it, but maybe that’s his recharge time and he needs that to feel calm or centered or something.  And that’s fine.  But most people would actually be better off with some audio learning, and especially if it’s highly niche material like you can get on podcast.  I just don’t know of a better way to fill that empty time of doing the dishes or mowing the lawn.

[09:59] Mike: So number five is automate anything that you possibly can.  We very briefly mentioned this in the beginning, but things like using an online bill pay and paying your bills automatically each month, going paperless with your incoming bills.  I get tons and tons of paperwork every month and I’ve tried to just get rid of as much of it as I possibly can.  I try to do everything I possibly can online.  Unfortunately, certain places are still not going to do that for you.  I’ve got a couple of bills that still come in.  There’s no way to get them electronically.  You just have to deal with those.

[10:30] But for a lot of the other ones, any sort of recurring payment that you have every month, usually your phone bill, sometimes your electric bill or heat bill, you can take those things and pay them every month automatically, especially when it comes to things like your rent, mortgage anything were it’s a constant payment every single month; those things can definitely be automated.

[10:48] Rob: Yeah, I use to spend between two and four hours a month on paying bills.  It’s time you don’t even realize because you just write your address, put a stamp and write a check really quick.  But it adds up to a lot of time over the course of a month, and that’s time that I’ve certainly reclaimed and certainly enjoyed reclaiming.

[11:07]  Another example and this is something I just ran into this week.  I was actually on the phone today with my representative from Paychex, which is the company that does payroll.  I just started my LLC in the last month.  I am shocked at the amount of paperwork that you have to fill out, not only to get a LLC going, but as soon as you’re an LLC you essentially hire yourself and there’s massive amounts, in my opinion, just ridiculous paperwork to hire yourself.

[11:35] You have to have an employment agreement and then you have to file all this stuff with the state and you have all these withholdings you have to send to a bunch of different places.  One of the best investments I have made in the last year is hiring Paychex, and I pay them $39 a month and they’re handling all of that for me.  It’s crazy.  I don’t even . . . I can’t guess.  10 hours, maybe, they’ve saved me in the past two weeks?  It won’t be 10 hours a month because ongoing payroll I’d eventually get the hang of it.

[12:05] But this initial upfront, I have this huge stack of forms.  And I was talking to her today, and I started running through then.  And I was like the State EDD, the California State sent me all this stuff, and I am reading through all the names.  And she is like, “Nope.  Shred that.  We already did it.  Shred that, we already did it.”  So that was a huge boost to me.  Yeah, I think I made a really good investment by doing that.  And actually, Mike, I have you to thank, because you recommended I use them.

[12:23] Tip number six is to learn to say no.  This is an interesting one.  If you are like me, you get asked to do a lot of things.  Some of them are fun, like, “Hey, let’s go hang out, drink a few beers.”  And others are, “Hey, can you help me move on Saturday?”

[12:37] I got four moving invitations in the span of a week.  And I could have made three of them because they were doing them like Friday night, two on Saturday, and one on Sunday.  And if you are a nice person, you feel obligated to your friends to do these things.  And sometimes you are able to do it, and sometimes it is totally worth it.

[12:55] But other times, you have to say no.  And doing so can not only save your back, like in the case of last week or a couple weeks ago when this happened, but frankly, it can buy you a little time.  And not just time to be productive, but really some time to relax, because you can totally burn yourself out.  And  even two moves in a week is asking a lot.  And you come back to your work week not feeling rested.  Frankly, if you burn yourself out during your weekend, then when are you going to have time to rest?

[13:24] So while I’m not endorsing not supporting your friends and not helping people out or not going to happy hour and stuff, definitely I do all that stuff, I recommend people do it.  But you gotta know at some point, you know, maybe you can’t do everything.  Other people live more free-living lifestyles than us entrepreneurs.

[13:39] Mike: There is a simple solution to that.  Start purging your friends.  [laughs]

[13:44] Rob: No, I haven’t heard that one!  [laughs]  If you could do an 80/20 on your friends, which 20% of my friends can I get 80% benefit from?

[13:52] Mike: Well what I did was I moved about, I don’t know, it was like a six or seven hour drive away from pretty much everyone I knew.  And only one person followed me.

[14:01] Rob: There you go!

[14:01] Mike: I’ve got it all worked out pretty well for me.  [laughs]

[14:03] Rob: Instant purge!  Nice job!  You did really well!  So the real ultimate tip to this is to not have any friends.  [laughs]  Right?  Don’t have friends!

[14:14] Mike: Or at least not anywhere near you, because then they can’t ask you to move.

14:17] Rob: That’s right!  But they can call you remotely and ask for computer help.

[14:21] Mike: So tip number seven is never go to a store if you can possibly can again.  Always shop online.  You can buy just about anything that you want online these days.  I mean whether it’s computer equipment or groceries, and you can just have it delivered to your house for the most part.  The groceries thing went down; it’s a little bit more difficult.  But there’s still a lot of companies out there that are offering grocery delivery for you.

[14:42] One of the traps that I’ve found with ordering everything online is that you are always looking around to see where you can get the best deal.  And you have to be careful of this, because if you are going to look at three or four different vendors for, I don’ t know, say a hard drive or something like that, what you gotta do is you gotta look at the price, you have to take into account shipping, and figure out which one is the best place to buy it from.

[15:05] And then on top of that, you might have things like their customer service to take into consideration.  My advice to deal with all that is to just pick one, order it, and get it over with.  And if it’s a small amount between them, you know, less than a percent or two, just go ahead and buy it.  And it really doesn’t matter at that point, because the more time you spend trying to make a decision among those, the more time you are wasting and you are not actually saving yourself any time in the long run.

[15:31] Rob: I actually had to order Coy food.  We have a bunch of Coy here on the property.  I had to order Coy food and some algae treatment.  And I was driving all around Fresno and I found it, and then, of course, we used it all.  And I was thinking, “My gosh!”  It’s like a 20 minute drive each way to this place to get it.

[15:49] And I was thinking, “Why didn’t I just go online?”  And so I jumped online thinking no one is probably going to have this.  And sure enough, there are vendors offering it through Amazon.  You know, reselling through Amazon.  I found the exact same stuff and it was way cheaper than me driving across town.

[16:05] Tip number eight is to stop commuting.  Mike talked a little bit about this in the last episode actually, but telecommuting one day a week can save you a few hours, at least, by the time you factor in all the time it takes to drive to and from work.  I mean if you can telecommute two, three days a week or work from home all the time, you really do reclaim a lot of time.  It’s incredible.

[16:27] When I started working from home, I actually remember…I only had about a 30 minute commute each way, and so it was about an hour, hour and a half a day total time involved with the commute.  And when I started going it five days a week, I was getting five to seven and a half hours a week of extra time suddenly falling in my lap.  And that’s enough to really get something done.

[16:48] Mike: It depends on where you live, too.  I mean I live in the Boston area.  And for me to commute into Boston, it’s easily an hour each way; sometimes an hour and a half or two hours, depending on how bad traffic is.  But, I mean you are able to reclaim time on both sides of your commute, so immediately, whatever your commute time is each way, you’ve doubled that.

[17:08] Rob: In addition, that week, you don’t have to go get gas in your car, you don’t add miles to your car, you don’t have to dress up.  I mean you have to shower, I hope.  I shower every day still!  But I don’t get dressed up.  I don’t have to drop clothes off at the dry cleaner like I used to, because I used to wear slacks and a shirt to work.  So there’s all these kind of things that go with that that immediately leave.  And it’s not just about the money of those things; it’s really the time.

[17:33] Mike: Being able to telecommute, it sounds like a huge step, but it’s something that it’s quite possible that you can work out with your current employer.  I mean what that will do for you is, even if you are not working on your own stuff that day, what will happen is that if you are able to work it out so that you are telecommuting on Fridays, maybe you are able to reclaim an hour, two hours on every Friday.  What you can do is, instead of working on stuff for your employer during that hour or two that you would have been spending commuting, you can work on your own things.  Or you can get other things done.  And that will really help you on your path to being a micropreneur.

[18:06] So number nine I think is personally my favorite one.  Our recommendation is to upgrade to crazy fast Internet, especially if you are uploading files that are of any large size.  What I did recently was I renewed my contract with Verizon for my Internet access.  And they were able to upgrade me to 25 megabits a second upstream and downstream.

[18:28] So my files just fly up and down.  And whether it’s the podcast or whether it’s the videos that we produce, or I am sending audio files off to my virtual assistants; it doesn’t matter what it is, those things just go up and down, and I don’t have to wait for them anymore.

[18:43] And granted, most of them I can just kind of schedule in the background and just walk away.  But a lot of times, these are things that I just need to put up there, or if I am publishing documents for the week, or if I need to get them done, I just don’t have to wait for them anymore, which is just fantastic.

[18:58] Rob: My Internet isn’t as fast as yours, but I have pretty high-speed cable.  And I’ve noticed that now, if I work anywhere but at my house, such as going to a coffee shop or my brother’s house in the Bay area, it kills me.  It is so slow, and it is typically not the download.  Sometimes it is, but it is mostly uploads that are just brutal.  Like, I am uploading just a 30, 40 MG file, and it takes like four or five times as long as it does at my house.

[19:24] And it really does hamper my productivity.  And then that slows down the download speed.  So if I’m trying to download some podcasts or download audio of any kind, you know, any type of large files.  And even surfing and checking email, like it starts to bog down.  I’ve noticed a big bottleneck.

[19:40] And what’s a trip is most people will not notice that.  Most people will just go along thinking, “Oh, this is just the speed of the Internet.”  But as developers, as techies, like, you know better.  We all know better, that if you get higher speed Internet, you will be able to work faster.  You will be able to reclaim some time in your day and be more productive.

[19:58] So I highly recommend…I mean with the costs now to upgrade to the next plan being $10 or $20 more a month, it is kind of a no-brainer to at least give it a shot for a few months and see how it impacts your productivity.

[20:10] Tip number 10 is to skim books, or better yet, learn how to speed read.  This is something I started doing probably four or five years ago.  This goes along with the thought than an author really needs to grab my attention.  When I start reading a book, when I get one or two chapters into it, if I am getting bored with it, man, I start zipping through that thing and I start skimming.  And if I skim another chapter or two and the author hasn’t really gripped me, then it is going in the recycle bin.

[20:34] I think the bottom line is that there is actually a lot less information in books than we think there is.  Now there are some books that are dense and they have a lot of material them, but honestly, like, you know, you read the latest Seth Goden or you read a business book about figuring out your revenue model or something, and this does not need to be studied, and every word does not need to be absorbed and memorized.  You really are trying to get the gist of the author’s point.

[20:59] So actually spending eight or 10 hours to read a book versus one to two hours, the benefit doesn’t tend to be four to five times as much just to spend that much time.  So it’s just not an efficient operation to do it that way.

[21:12] Mike: Don’t get me wrong, I mean there are certain books you enjoy reading, and you read them to kind of get a mental escape.  But there’s other books you read because you need to learn something.  And a lot of those books you can just speed read them, you skim them; you do whatever it takes to get through them and understand what the author is getting at.  You don’t need for them to explain to you 10 different ways if you understood it after their first time they explained it.

[21:34] So the 11th way to add hours to your day is to uninstall your instant messenger programs and block any time-suck websites like Facebook, Twitter, and news sites at your firewall or at your gateway.

[21:47]  And I actually took between September and about January and February.  I took that entire time frame off from Facebook.  So I blocked it on my machine.  If I wanted to get to it, I could obviously, because I know what I’m doing, but at the same time, if I ever, just out of force of habit, popped it open, it got blocked, and then I’d say, “Oh, wait a second. This is a time suck for me. I need to not go here, because I know that I’ll just spend 15, 20 minutes there.” A half hour turns into two hours, and suddenly, I’ve just wasted two hours of time that I could’ve spend doing other things and being more productive.

[22:22] Rob: Tip number 12 – you’ve never heard this one before – outsource. Mike and I talked about this a number of times, and it’s outsource anything you can. My new favorite – I don’t think I’ve even talked about this, Mike – is oDesk. I just found a really good VA on oDesk. She’s solid, she’s in the Philippines, and she’s doing a great job for me.

[22:46] We won’t go into outsourcing again, but realistically, of all these tips, this single tip has the potential to save you more time than all of the others combined.

[22:56] So, as a quick recap, our 12 ways that we’ve suggested to add hours to your day: Number one: Listen to podcasts at double speed.  Number two: Use a DVR to cut an hour long TV show to 40 minutes. Number three: Don’t be afraid to stop watching a movie or reading a book if you’re not enjoying it. Number four: Listen to books or podcasts while you drive, clean the house, exercise, or cook dinner. Number five: Automate anything you can, including using online bill pay, and automating your business functions, like payroll. Number six: Learn to say no.

[23:28] Mike: Number seven: Don’t go to stores if you don’t have to. Shop online if you can.  Number eight: Stop commuting. Telecommute as much as you possibly can. Number nine: Upgrade to the fastest Internet speed you can, that is not outrageously expensive of course.  Number 10: Skim books, or better yet, speed read. Number eleven: Uninstall any instant messenger programs and block time sucking websites like Facebook, Twitter, or other news websites. Number 12: Outsource as much as you possibly can.

[23:56] [music]

[23:59] Rob: Very good, shall we take a listener question?

[24:01] Mike: I think that sounds like a great idea.

[24:03] Rob: This week we have a question, it’s actually from the micropreneur academy forums. We had talked about the academy in last week’s podcast, but it’s a private community for startup founders and micropreneurs.

[24:16] The question reads: “Like many other aspiring micropreneurs, I have a day job, and my goal is to leave that job. How do I get the most out of the time I have left at the job? Are there opportunities or tasks that I should consider pursuing at the day job that will hone my micropreneur skills?”

[24:31] Why don’t you take a first crack at this, Mike?

[24:33] Mike: Sure. So, from my point of view, the problem with trying to hone your micropreneurial or entrepreneurial skills when you’re working at a full-time position is that fact that the company you work for hired you to do a specific job. The reason they hired you for that job is that you’re good at it. That, unfortunately, conflicts with your goals of trying to learn new things, because the more you learn things on another company’s time, the more they’re paying for it, and they’re not really getting nearly as much out of it.

[25:04] For example, most of the people who are listening to this podcast are probably developers, and paying a developer $40 an hour to go over to the marketing department and work on marketing stuff, when maybe they’re paying the marketing people $25 an hour, when you’re not nearly as good at it as they are. That means that they’re basically paying you $40 an hour for something that, realistically, they may very well be able to get an intern for, I don’t know, $10 or $15 an hour.

[25:30] So they’re vastly overpaying you to help out the people in the marketing department, and most companies just do not want to do that. It’s not cost effective for them, and it’s really not beneficial to them in the long run to help you learn those new skills.

[25:43] The problem is that, as I said, that conflicts with what it is that you’re trying to do, and what their long-term goals are for the company. So you kind of have to insert yourself into those positions. You have to offer those things, because those opportunities are not going to land in your lap. If you express the interest, then sure, it’s quite possible that they’ll let you. Until maybe they think about the reality of the situation and say, “Well, you know, he probably shouldn’t be doing things in the marketing department.”

[26:09] But again, there’s certain employers who are going to look at that and say, “Well, you know, maybe his insight is going to help out. Or maybe there’s inefficiencies that he’d going to see that nobody else is noticing, because they don’t have the same perspective that he has.”

[26:24] So, as I said, you really need to insert yourself into those. Ask, see what you can do to help. Not only does that help you expand your horizons about what you can do, but it also shows to your employer that you’re a motivated employee, and you’re trying to do whatever it takes to not only better yourself, but to be more helpful in the company.

[26:43] Rob: Yeah. I found there’s two approaches to learning about micropreneurial topics, or business oriented topics, if you’re a software developer at a big company. And what I did in my first job, and I was this kind of young, eager upstart, trying to learn anything that I could, is I find that I could take two approaches.  One, I could take the official approach, which worked to a certain extent, and I could take the unofficial approach.

[27:10] And the official approach was talking to my supervisor and my supervisor’s supervisor, and talking to them about how, you know, developers knowing more about the business for writing line of business applications, that developers knowing more about the business really helps out the company as a whole.

[27:25] And so they actually started doing cool presentations.  They would have someone from the call center come in and do a presentation.  They would have someone from production come in and do a presentation.  And we would, from those people, learn, kind of in an official manner, how things worked in other areas at the company. Which, at the time, was just a complete blank;  it was an unknown for me.

[27:43] But I started learning these things.  You know, about how product development and call centers and all that stuff works.  And some of that stuff will eventually apply to becoming an entrepreneur.

[27:55] And then the unofficial side was I picked out the people who I started to build relationships with, whether it was through the trainings or had asked questions, or if it was a developer I worked with them building software for their team.  And I would start asking them questions.  I would literally just walk over and say, “Hey, I have a question about this thing.  Why do we do risk management that way?  How does this work?  Can you show me this?”

[28:18] And it’s crazy how much people are willing to just help you out and spend 10 or 15 minutes explaining a concept to you about why they do it that way, how things have evolved.  And then to take it a step further, I found someone in product development who was crazy smart.  It was actually a couple of people who are really good.  And I took them to lunch.  And I did this a couple of times, and they basically…you know, I kind of grilled them on why we do these things, and why we market products this way, and how we come up with products.  And I learned about surveying customers, and about focus groups.

[28:46] And these aren’t necessarily things that I use today, but the concepts have applied.  You know, learning about what customers want before you build a product.  Absolutely.  I took a lot away from these product managers.

[28:57] So those are just some ways that I’ve used in the past.  It is going to be hard.  It’s going to be very rare that you are going to work at a big company and someone is going to sit down and teach you the specifics of SEO, or the specifics of AdWords, or the specifics of blogging, right?  And those things may apply more to micropreneurship than something like product development or risk management.

[29:17] I contend than anytime you are learning about how a business runs and why it runs that way, that you are going to take something home.  You are going to take a home a piece of wisdom that is going to serve you down the line as an entrepreneur.

[29:28] Mike: And that’s true regardless of what business it actually is, whether it’s manufacturing, or healthcare, or even working in government facilities.  I mean the more that you learn about how they operate, the more it gives you the ability to kind of generalize about how a particular industry operates and to be able to look at that industry and say, “This idea would fly there and this other idea would not.”

[29:52] Rob: And I think as a final note, anytime you can find people that deal with money coming in or money going out of a company, and you can learn why they do what they do and how they do it, it is going to help you as an entrepreneur.

[30:06] So the people dealing with money coming in, or typically, your accounts receivable, actually dealing with customers, but they are also sales people and marketing people.  And you can learn stuff from all of them that are going to help you as an entrepreneur.

[30:17] And then with money going out, you have accounts payable people dealing directly with the money, but you also have folks who are purchasing advertising and purchasing things from vendors, and from outsourced labor and such.  All of those people have expertise in why they purchase a certain way, how they purchase it.  And those are the functions in a business that tend to be the same across businesses.  Whether you are a hospital or manufacturing, you are always going to have people collecting money and people paying money out.  And we can learn a lot from them as entrepreneurs.

[30:49] [music]

[30:52] Rob: If you have a question or comment, please call it into our voicemail number:  1-888-801-9690.  Or you can email it in MP3 or text format to questions@startupsfortherestofus.com.

[31:06] If you enjoyed this podcast, please consider writing a review in iTunes by searching for “Startups”.  You can subscribe to this podcast in iTunes or via RSS at startupsfortherestofus.com.

[31:19] Our theme music is an excerpt from “We’re Outta Control” by MoOt, used under Creative Commons.  A transcript of this podcast and more information about Mike and I is available at our website: startupsfortherestofus.com.  We will see you next time.

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One Response to “Episode 13 | Twelve Ways to Add Hours to Your Day”

  1. Joe Ayala says:

    Great podcast! I’m very glad I found it. I often listen to this week in startups. I did a search for start ups and found your podcast. I like your podcast because I can listen to it about 15 minutes (2x). Great information.

    I live in Madera excited to hear Fresno mentioned in the podcast. Really like all the tech ideas coming out of the central valley.

    Keep up the great job!